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Less is more

A Summer of Silent Book Suggestions

What is a silent book? You’ve likely never heard the term because, in the USA, we call them wordless picture books. Think about that moment while I relate that the global community, Africa, Europe, and Asia use the term silent books. I could go into the long history of silent books, but I’ll spare you. Think about cave paintings.

Let’s consider why America focuses on what’s not there instead of what is there.

Wordless picture books ask kids to collaborate in the storytelling. This is empowering in that it’s the beginning of oral language skills. Is it more difficult than reading words? Possibly. It takes time for kindergarteners to acquire the skills of writing, printing, and understanding concepts. But these all require a strong foundation in oral language.

This foundation can be built using wordless picture books. And that’s why building oral language skills along with storytelling skills matters. Storytelling is collaborative in that it engages the imagination of the teller and the listener. It relies on empathy, attention, and emotional intelligence.

Understanding the meaning behind kids' stories can be overlooked when reading words. The idea of reading becomes a complex skill the kids strive to master, often missing the meaning behind the words.

Let’s jump to soft skills like creativity, empathy, and imagination. These skills will enable kids to make sense of their world. Beyond making sense, they will help them recreate a world with more meaning.

The first Summer Silent book recommendation has to be Wave by Suzy Lee. Sparsely yet beautifully illustrated, it brings out the essence of a child’s visit to the beach. The left side of the book is the unnamed girl's domain; the right side is the ocean’s power. The story is of the meeting of the two in fear, discovery, and joy!

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